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Seven Tactics to Create Community Engagement with Non-Branded Facebook Pages (Part 2 of 2)

by: Heidi Kenyon

Content Strategist

This article originally appeared, in a slightly different form, in pharmaphorum on January 25, 2013.

In Part One of this article, I described the values and goals of non-branded Facebook properties and set up seven tactics for community engagement on those kinds of properties:

  1. Accept User Comments.
  2. Respond to User Comments.
  3. Tag Users in Responses.
  4. Aggregate and Post from Events.
  5. Like and Engage with Other Pages.
  6. Use Interactive Tabs or Additional Functions.
  7. Utilize User-Generated Content.

Now, on to Part Two.

The Proof Is In the Pages

To demonstrate just how effective these tactics are, I reviewed six non-branded Facebook pages, examining the content of their posts and evaluating their user engagement by comparing the total number of likes, comments, and shares per post. (Because the number of page likes varies so wildly between the pages, depending on the size of the disease community, user engagement figures are shown as a percentage of total page likes.) The pages included are:

Figure 2 shows which pages utilize which tactics.

Figure 2

Figure 2

Figure 3 compares three factors for each page: the total number of posts in the period; the user engagement score (the percentage of total users who engaged with the page); and how many of the seven engagement tactics each page is using.

Only two pages employ five or more of the seven tactics; these have the highest percentage of user engagement by a wide margin. The Moving Together for HD page utilizes five tactics and sees an average of 13% user engagement. The Changing Possibilities in Hemophilia page utilizes six and sees an average of 11% user engagement.

Bryan Hanscin, Senior Brand Manager for Hemophilia Marketing at Novo Nordisk, says it’s important to understand how a page is performing. “We do monthly analytics for all of our properties, including the Changing Possibilities in Hemophilia Facebook page,” he says. “We break down posts by type and topic, look at user engagement through several different lenses, and basically try to understand what’s working and what’s not. We’re agile enough to adapt our tactics based on that information.”

Figure 3

Figure 3

Analytics show clearly: the pages using more engagement tactics have higher percentages of engaged users.

What About the Risks?

Adverse Event Reporting and Mention of Off-Label Use

Figure 4

Figure 4: The Adverse Event Reporting Tab on the Parkinson's More Than Motion Facebook page

Adverse event reporting and the mention of off-label use are some of the biggest risks that pharmaceutical companies face in any situation where input from the public is possible. Some companies address this issue head-on, with a tab for adverse event reporting such as that on the Parkinson’s More Than Motion page (see Figure 4) or with language like that used on the Moving Together for HD page’s About tab. Careful use of the moderation blocklist and close monitoring of comments can also help reduce the risk. Given these safeguards, the possibility of adverse event reporting, or mention of off-label use, on non-branded pharma Facebook pages can be manageable.

Goodwill Goes Both Ways

Despite risks, some page administrators find that the goodwill behind their non-branded pharma pages is returned by users. Asked whether Lundbeck has had to engage in damage control, Communications Manager Katie White says, “What we’ve experienced is that comments and questions from the [Huntington’s Disease] community have been aligned with the spirit and intent of the page, which is to share experiences and connect to HD resources and education.”

Tactical Success

Pharma must continue to walk a very fine line—between the flexibility and agility expected by social media users, the process of internal review, and the lack of regulatory guidance—to use non-branded Facebook pages as part of patient communities.

The seven tactics described herein have been shown to increase user engagement. With equal parts caution and innovation, and while maintaining a sense of trustworthiness, page administrators can employ these tactics and create others, to the benefit of both the pharmaceutical companies and their patients.

Filed under: Content Strategy

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